Sports

Cancelled Nigeria vs. Argentina friendly set to be revived as negotiations continue with China

Nigeria’s first meeting with Argentina at the senior level was at the FIFA World Cup in 1994, and both teams have played nine games since, with the Eagles winning once and losing six times

Negotiations are currently in progress to resurrect the much-anticipated friendly match between Nigeria and Argentina, Soccernet.ng reports.

The international friendly was originally announced with excitement by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Argentina Football Association (FA) in January.

The game had been slated for the March international break, with the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in China chosen as the venue for the clash between the two football powerhouses.

However, the situation took an unexpected turn in early February when the Chinese government abruptly cancelled the match, citing a controversy involving Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.

The catalyst for this decision was Messi’s involvement in another friendly held in Hong Kong for his club side, Inter Miami.

The Hong Kong government had previously outlined Messi’s contractual obligation to play 45 minutes in Inter Miami’s game against a League XI, which Inter Miami ultimately won 4-1.

Contrary to expectations, Messi remained on the bench for the entire duration of the game, sparking discontent among the 40,000 fans in attendance who anticipated witnessing the football icon in action.

The dissatisfaction resulted in boos, jeers, and calls for refunds, prompting Messi to clarify that a hamstring injury prevented him from taking the field.

However, the incident led to further controversy and backlash when Messi made a half-hour appearance in a subsequent friendly against Japanese side Vissel Kobe, with many viewing it as an insult to China.

In the aftermath, the Nigeria-Argentina friendly was officially called off.

Argentina – Nigeria friendly back on track? 

However, recent information obtained by Soccernet.ng indicates that the friendly is not entirely scrapped.

A reliable source close to the negotiations revealed that efforts are underway to salvage the match against Argentina.

The organisers are actively engaged in discussions with the Chinese government, aiming to sway their decision and secure permission for the friendly to be played within the country.

Should permission be denied, contingency plans are already in motion, with organisers exploring alternative venues for the encounter. The negotiation process remains dynamic, and updates are expected as discussions unfold.

It is worth noting that Argentina hold a significant place in Nigeria’s football history, standing as their favourite opponent in South America.

The two nations have faced each other nine times, with five encounters occurring in the World Cup and the remaining four in international friendly matches.